It seems easy enough. Do you want to go to the movies? Yes or no? Do you want to subscribe to the service that was pitched to you? Yes or no? Do you want to engage someone as an employee or a consultant? Yes or no?

If the answer is yes, responding is required. If the answer is no, I’ve noticed a tendency to simply not respond. As I often say, I’m an imperfect messenger of a perfect message. When I notice this happening to me, both personally and professionally, I take a critical look at whether or not I’m responding to other people when I do not want to engage them or their services. Once I clean things up on my side of the street, people tend to respond in kind.

No response seems easy. Email in particular gives us the separation we need to dehumanize the exchange, making it easier to walk away without a proper response. We might think “well, they should know that no response means no.”

BS. To not respond is rude and inconsiderate. Have the guts to make a call or send an email. It’s a common courtesy, and we are in need of treating each other with courtesy now more than ever. Saying “no” also completes the conversation. You may not be consciously aware of it, but having 10s or 100s of incomplete interactions clutters your mind.

You also have the opportunity to thank the person for reaching out, or applying, or pitching you. If you have constructive criticism to offer, you can use this as an occasion to take a couple of minutes and contribute to another human being, perhaps helping them be more successful next time out.

This is one of the simplest practices you can adopt. The New Year is just around the corner. Take this on. Complete conversations and contribute to others. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the kind thing to do. And only good can come from it.